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help exchange   Host 17483
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All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 19.2
Persons: 1 - 4, or family
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 17483
Country: France

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Last Updated: October 31, 2012

In September 2010 we bought a derelict farm in the heart of the Perigord Vert (North Dordogne) in France. The house was not habitable, the barns were run down with leaky roofs, the land we bought with the farm was either run down meadow, a mix of derelict copse as well as even more derelict mature woodland and the arable land was being rented out to a neighbouring farmer and we had no equipment with which to work the land other than a few garden tools. When we moved on site on in November 2010 it was into a 10m x 3m static caravan. That's us, four kids, 3 dogs, and 3 cats. So what has changed in the last year? Well, because of work commitments not a lot has changed. Some work has been completed on the house and two of the boys are currently camped out in the kitchen. We have an extra dog and an itinerant stray cat who puts in an occasional appearance but not much else has moved forward since we arrived. However, I now have a break and I am going to get going with some of the projects that I have been waiting to complete. Our intension here is to attempt to live a low impact lifestyle while combining this with a policy of managing the land we have in an ecologically and environmentally friendly manner.

While I am not so naive as to imagine that all projects will be a resounding success, I do hope to succeed at most.

So, who are we? Well, my name is Andy and I'm married to Meredith and together we have four wonderful children James, Thomas (Tom), Kathryn (Katie) and William (Billy). What is our background? Well. I was (and still am to some extent) an Information Technology consultant having worked in IT for 25 years, primarily within Investment Banking and Finance in the city. Meredith is a registered nurse, accomplished clarinet player, mother of our four children as well as a professional agricultuer and general keeper of livestock (kids and stock alike). My background is that of a townie, all be it I grew up within walking distance of the south coast and had ample countryside in which to explore and grow up. Meredith is from good welsh farming stock and as such has always had that much more of a head start over me when it comes to farming and agriculture in general. As a family we have lived all over the country and more recently in France. We lived for 7 years in rural Dorset, 3 years of which were in a cottage on a small pig farm, 4 years in Shetland (that wild, windy and truly beautiful set of islands out in the north sea) where we had our first holding, and the last 2 years in France where we now have a 19.2 hectare (47.4 acre) small holding.

In Shetland we spent the best part of 2 years without having to buy a single piece of meat from any supermarket or butcher. In the past we have grown much of our own personal food and we want to resestablish the farm as a small holding producing all of our own meat and growing as many of our own vegetables as possible.

We have a large area of mature woodland which we harvest for building materials and winter fuel and are hoping to build a number of eco pod / cabins to rent out as holiday accommodation as well as providing future accommodation for Helpx helpers. We are also shortly going to be launching a coppicing / forestry business selling a whole range of wood based products to the local community very shortly.

Current (but not exhaustive) project list includes

Improve Helper Accomodation
Build Pig Pens x3
Build Pig Stye
Clear Duck Pond
Lay Channel to feed water from barn roof to duck pond
Build Duck Housing
Build Chicken Run
Build Large Chicken House
Cut and stack firewood
Build Eco Pod / Cabins
Fence Vegetable Plot
Build Vegetable Beds
Dig Vegetable Beds
Fencing (miles of it)
Learn Charcoal Burning
Build Solar Wood Kiln

What we offer

Meredith is a very good cook and baker. We are both very social individuals, and the children are well adjusted, inquisitive and friendly. We offer good company and a great experience in a truly beautiful part of rural France.

What we are looking for

We would like people to help us with five hours work a day, five days a week. In return we offer food and accommodation (the accommodation being basic at the moment) and on your off days, we are willing to drop you to the nearest bus stop or one of the local towns so that you can explore.

...And finally

We are not expert in all things and view the prospect of hosting helpers as an information exchange as much as anything. We may be able to teach you skills, but we are just as happy to learn a new way of doing things from you.

We are happy to accommodate for a week, a month, or even longer as suits you.

If you want to chat or ask any questions then you can find me lurking around various self-sufficiency and alternative lifestyle sites, or you can go look for me on the Green Living Forum:, or alternatively you can just drop me an email.

Hope to see ou soon.

Kind Rgds
Andy Hammett
Maison Neuve de Puyremale

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